Letters to the Editor

Miami Beach unfair to Airbnb?

Travel and tourism are fast-growing sectors of the global economy, accounting for 10 percent of the global GDP. As cities move forward, the future of travel and tourism must be designed to address their specific needs.

Airbnb recently worked with New Orleans to help them spread the benefits of tourism to under-served communities while protecting quality of life and excessive tourism in one legendary neighborhood — the French Quarter.

Recognizing that democracy involves all sides coming to the table and working together, Airbnb collaborated with the city and compromised on key issues. Our agreement infused new tax revenue for the Crescent City, including funding for affordable housing programs.

Miami Beach policymakers are similarly challenged over how to balance tourism and quality of life in neighborhoods. This is important to get right, and we believe there are reasonable solutions. What is not understandable is the city’s policy to scapegoat hosts while refusing to engage in a thoughtful discussion on addressing those concerns.

Miami Beach has levied $20,000 fines for short-term rentals, a measure they admit is meant to be “punitive.” They’ve even considered pursuing criminal prosecution against residents simply for sharing their homes. It defies logic to resort to extreme measures without exploring commonsense solutions.

With South Florida home to one of the priciest hotel markets in the country, many can only afford to experience Miami Beach through more reasonable Airbnb rates. We can complement home-sharing’s economic impact with simple reforms that will protect quality of life for beach residents. But it takes a willing partner.

Airbnb remains at the table. Here’s hoping that Mayor Philip Levine and the city commission will join us.

Chris Lehane,

Head of Global Policy and Communications for Airbnb,

San Francisco, CA